Since we are on the precipice of shed hunting 2017, when can you be sure it is time to venture out and look for sheds on your property? The best way to decide when to go shed hunting is to use trail cameras.
Trail cameras provide a means to monitor the timing of antler drop in your area. You can use cameras to pinpoint when most of the bucks have dropped their horns. Also, trail cameras can track a specific buck to find that white gold set that eluded you during hunting season. With trail cameras, you can scout an entire property and even multiple properties quickly and determine when to go shed hunting makes sense.
Shed hunting success is all about coverage. The more miles you put on the ground the greatest chance you will stumble across shed antlers. Trail cameras, however, can save you valuable time. When to shed hunt should be based on when the majority of bucks have started dropping. Use your cameras to identify when about 50% of bucks have lost their horns. Your odds of finding sheds will be much greater when you know most bucks have lost their horns.
Post Season Trail Camera Surveys vs. Shed Hunting Scouting
Similar to why you should be shed hunting, post season trail camera surveys are a way to find out what is the overall status of the deer herd in your area. The most efficient way to accomplish this is by running a trail camera survey.
A post season trail camera survey provides more valuable information than summer trail camera surveys. Results with surveys this time of year can be used for determining population estimates, age structure, sex ratios and herd health after the hunting season. All of which drive what management actions are needed this year.
The differences between a post season trail camera survey and using trail cameras for shed hunting are how the cameras are setup.
Post Season Trail Camera Survey Setup
- 1 trail camera per 100 acres. Ideal but use your best judgment based on topography and how you have observed deer movements in the past.
- 1 photo burst with a 5-minute The most important setting when conducting a trail camera survey.
- Run the survey for approximately 3 weeks before pulling the cameras and proceeding with the analysis. 1 pre-bait week, and 2 weeks of actual data, making sure bait is present at the site during the whole 3 week period.
Trail Camera Setup for Shed Hunting
- Scatter trail cameras in the best places for finding sheds like food sources and bedding areas. Often trail camera density goes over 1/100 acres. This is in order to get more encounters and pictures over the entire property
- Use a 3-8 photo burst or video setting on your Muddy Pro-Cam 12 to narrow down which bucks are shedding and to identify bucks vs. does once shed.
- Run survey until the last buck has shed and check trail cameras every few days to determine when to go shed hunting.
Putting It All Together
There are numerous shed hunting tips out there but it really comes down to dedicating yourself to shed hunting. It is a combination of an art and a science. The art is taking your time, covering ground and being able to pick out even the slightest protruding part of an antler on the ground. Where the science comes in is using trail cameras to time the shed hunting season and to isolate the most likely places bucks are hanging out in winter. Combining these two will put more antlers in your pack and support your management decisions this season.
When do whitetail deer shed antlers? It is happening right now! There are some people out there that are naturals at shed hunting. If you are like most, however, you need some help when it comes to shed hunting season. It is ok to hike through the woods in the hope that you will find sheds, but a better approach is to have a plan. Using trail cameras to identify when to start shed hunting and areas that bucks are frequenting will vastly improve your odds when it comes to searching for white gold.